Roll Call, a Washington, DC paper focused on Congress, reports on September 6 that Rep. Xavier Becerra is pushing the Senate’s S.744 immigration legislation as a deficit reduction measure. He cites the Congressional Budget Office estimate that in the first ten years the bill if enacted would reduce the deficit by $158 billion. The trouble with that argument is that the CBO estimate attributes that reduction to the increased collection of Social Security wages – which are not available for general budget expenditures.

In addition, the net benefit to the Social Security Trust Fund from adding illegal aliens and new immigrant workers to the workforce is only in the short term. In the long term, as those new workers retire, they draw down on the Trust Fund and the benefit would disappear. Further, as those former illegal aliens and many of the new foreign workers would be working in low-wage jobs, they will contribute less to the Trust Fund and be a larger net deficit to the already shaky retirement system than would be the case for higher wage workers.